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Phyllis Henry

Monica Smith

Joseph Bowers

Paul Karhnak

School Board recognizes former Board members; student representatives

On the evening of December 2, 2020, the Hampton School Board had the honor of recognizing four individuals for their dedication and service to the Board. Those individuals included Joseph Bowers, who served as the alternate student representative for the 2019-2020 school year; Paul Karhnak, the current student representative who also served in the same position for the 2019-2020 school year; Monica Smith, past interim School Board member from January 2020 to June 2020; and Phyllis Henry, past School Board member who served the students, staff, families and the Hampton community from 2004 to 2020.

Last school year, Bowers was a senior at Phoebus High School. During his academic career at Phoebus he was a member of the Marine Corps JROTC and served as the battalion commander during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. He was a member of the JROTC drill team and Color Guard, the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society. In his spare time, he volunteered at Bay Beagle Rescue, The Arthritis Foundation, and Armstrong School for the Arts. In addition, he served guests during A Night’s Welcome, through the Hampton Ecumenical and Lodging Provisions (HELP) program and participated in the Wreaths Across America program annually at Arlington Cemetery. Bowers just completed his first semester at Virginia Tech where he is a part of the Corps of Cadets.

Karhnak is currently the 2020-2021 student representative; however, he started in this position last school year with Bowers in July 2019. Since he was unable to complete his term due to the shutdown in the spring, the Board asked Karhnak to stay on for an additional year as the student representative. Karhnak is currently a senior and an International Baccalaureate student at Hampton High School. He is a member of the Hampton High School marching band, jazz band, and symphonic band, the varsity track and field team, National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society. He previously served as a junior class officer and a sophomore class officer. Karhnak volunteers through the IB Program CAS (creativity, activity, and service hours) with organizations such as the Salvation Army and GO Rescue Adoption Center, and has served as an Academies of Hampton student ambassador for three years. In addition, he attended a Summer Residential Governor's School program during the summer of 2019.

Last school year, Martha Mugler resigned from the School Board on December 31, 2019, to serve as the 91st district delegate in the Virginia General Assembly. The Board was thrilled for Martha but with her departure the Board had a vacant seat to fill. They were fortunate enough to have Monica Smith as one of the individuals who was interested in filling the seat. In January of 2020, the Board appointed Smith to hold the seat until June 2020. Even though it was only for five months, she came to the Board with experience and valuable insight. She served on the Hampton School Board from 2012 to 2016 and was the president of the Hampton Council of PTAs from May 2007 to May 2011. She is an active volunteer in the community, is on the development committee and heads the data committee for the Downtown Hampton Child Development Center, and serves as the grant chairperson for the Hampton Education Foundation. In those five months, Smith assisted in approving the 2020-2021 budget and navigated through the new coronavirus.

It was an absolute honor to recognize Phyllis Henry for her 16 years of service to the Hampton City School Board. Henry came on the Board in 2004 and served four terms until June of 2020. During her tenure she was vice chair during the 2008-2009 school year. Her level of expertise as a retired high school principal from Phoebus High School allowed her to ask hard questions and help set important priorities for the school system. Henry was a valuable member of the Board who played a vital role in many accomplishments, from hiring two superintendents to expanding the school bus fleet. Her experience with Tech Prep and other academic teaming provided a valuable perspective regarding the division’s efforts around the Academies of Hampton and the Portrait of a Hampton Graduate. In addition, she served when the division went from 41% of schools being fully accredited to 100% of schools being fully accredited without conditions and the HCS dropout rate being the lowest of the 15 school divisions in the region. Her passion and commitment to every student, every school, and every family in Hampton City Schools was unwavering. She was a respected and valued member of the Board. She was presented with a plaque which reads, “In honor of Phyllis Taylor Henry for her leadership and commitment to Phoebus High School for 18 years and her service on the Hampton School Board for 16 years.” This plaque was presented to Henry but an additional plaque will be provided to Phoebus High School to hang in their building in recognition of her service.